Short story “Rocket Surgery” by Effie Seiberg was originally published in n Analog, 2016. Its audio edition can be found now on Escape Pod’s episode 588 on the 10th of August 2017. Summary: A military team trains an A.I. rocket how to eliminate the enemy by choosing the best path through a series of simulations. But something goes wrong and the narrator ends up in prison. Analysis: The narrator is a member of the military team, now locked up in prison. The reader wants to know why the narrator is in prison and what happened to the A.I.. The names of either the country of the dictator or the names of the rockets add an extra quirkiness to the story. This fact helped us understand that this story is more about the interaction of the A.I. with its teacher than about the hardware / software mechanics behind the A.I. The plot is revealed slowly by showing how the AI is trained until it has an existential crisis. The story uses also a repetitive set of questions and answers which are used for the final spin successfully.
That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn originally appeared on Tor.com in March 2016. It is narrated by Amy H. Sturgis in EscapePod ‘s podcast EP581 22nd June of 2017 Summary: Calla of Enith, a nurse, has feelings of affection for the Gaantish prisoner, officer Valk. Officer Valk with the power of telepathy (a common characteristic for Gaantish people) wants to learn to play chess while she becomes his prisoner. Analysis: The idea of a chess player having the power of telepathy adds an interesting and challenging note to chess. Admiringly, it is followed through successfully, reminding me how the big chess masters won the AI. (Although as a chess player I know random moves are not usually lead to a winning position) In addition with the war set as a background makes it a story that satisfies the reader. Also I never expected that telepathy can be a bad thing in the war, which as I see in prisoners camps it must be. Pros: the characters are very well depicted more than one ideas are described around telepathy very good flow that leads to a sort of climax Cons: maybe a slow start?
A review for “The Heart’s Cartography by Susan Jane Bigelow”, which is published in Lightspeed’s magazine May 2017 (Issue 84) Summary: A girl in a boy’s body meets a family of time-travelers. She is in a small town and it’s the first time that she feels accepted when she meets the family’s young girl. Soon they become best friends, but she learns that they would need to leave again for a different time-line. Analysis: This is a story that looks from a point of view of a girl that was born with a boy’s body. She doesn’t face major issues with the people around her as she would have in an older era but still she feels that they not see her as normal. The time-travelers’ daughter comes as a big a relief and solace for how she feels. She can now see things with more optimism. Have some handkerchiefs near you because you will need them!
This is the review of “You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe, published in Nightmare Magazine’s March 2017 Issue. Summary: Isobelle is visiting her Uncle for the summer break. An Uncle who is consumed by superstition and fear. That’s why Isobelle doesn’t believe him when he says that the strange noises that come from her cousin’s bedroom belong to a pet dog. Pros: + The supernatural horror here plays a secondary role to the reason that cause it. The real horror is what people can do when they give in to superstition. + The well-drawn characters. +The emotional ending. Cons: – The shift between three different perspectives might reduce the tension of the story for some readers. You can read the story here.
This is the review for the short story “Remote Presence” by Susan Palwick published at the Lightspeed magazine’s April 2017 issue. Synopsis: Chaplin Win’s job in the hospital is to help ghosts leave our world. However, he finds trouble when he stalls the exorcism of a kind elderly ghost. Pros: + Heart-warming emotions. + The kind ghost + Very close to real life, human beings working in tiring real jobs
We read the shorty story by Robert Reed “Two Ways of Living” in the Clarkesworld’s ISSUE 126, March 2017 The main idea of this story may be about a man hibernating to a future with better star-travelling conditions but what attracts our interest is the dog. A dog that has attached an AI on his collar thus making him able to communicate with the humans. Don’t we always wonder what our pets would tell us if they had they way to talk to us? As the main character sleeps and wakes after a couple of years each time he meets a lady who causes him only trouble but her friend the dog in the mean time evolves by using technology into a speaking being. Pros: + The dog Cons: – Not much going on apart from the sleeper’s interaction with the dog. But for the story’s size is acceptable.
Interchange by Gary Kloster is published in Clarkesworld’s January 2017 124 Issue Summary: Workers are building a highway interchange in an anti-time dome. They work for 6 months and not a minute change outside. Meanwhile the doctor has an android assistant which is identical to her late husband. But you know what they say, when you play with time… Pros: + A unique story. Usually we manipulate time in stories the other way around. But in this story is in reverse. Moreover, the plot evolves into a suspenseful mystery. + The android. The android’s point of view also helps us to look at more sides of the other characters. Cons: – Some of the characters emotions seem too extreme, a background story would be useful.(Like the doctor’s) – Doesn’t the ending create a time paradox?
A review for “Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities” by Lettie Prell published and narrated in Clarkesworld’s January 2016 issue Summary: Cole is ready to face the justice system for the crimes that he committed. As he is entering the court room he will travel through various parallel worlds with their own unique justice systems. Pros: + Some very interesting ideas on justice + humor + feels like a twilight story Cons: – A simple demonstration of lots of justice systems.
A review for the short story “When They Come Back” by Natalia Theodoridou First published in Crossed Genres‘s issue 22: Robots, Androids & Cyborgs (October 2014) Narrated by Ibba Armancas in EscapePod’s November 2016’s podcast Summary: Men are long gone, and the only thing left are robots and angel-like creatures who are still searching for humans. A robot befriends an angel while looking for his lover. This is an abstract story that gives bit by bit any information about a meta-apocalyptic world where android-like robots have survived. We don’t know exactly what are the angels, but apart from their fluid-shape-changing ability, we know that were faithful companion to men. Friendship, loss, grief, hope are examined through this Natalia’s work. Pros: + lyrical writing which suits the story well + various themes examined based on loss + imaginative world building, including the angel-like creatures Cons: – The story’s abstractness due to its short form make us ask lots of questions (although this can have a positive side-effect since it will stick in our mind for a longer time while pondering it)
The short story “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad is published in January 2017 Clarkesworld’s issue. Not to for the faint-hearted vegans. A one woman company creates fake stakes. A man blackmails her into forging a whole steak. Fortunately, an assistant comes to the rescue. Pros: + Kate Baker’s narration. She seems to really enjoy reading this, and gives life to the dialogue Cons: – Dialogue seems unnatural along with the rest text at some times.